The Texas Rangers hung on to take a must-win Game 3 by a 4-2 score over the San Francisco Giants before their spirited home fans.
The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington fans saw their hometown heroes come away victorious in their first-ever shot at hosting a World Series game. While the Giants still hold a 2-1 edge and maintain home-field advantage, the Rangers have now made it a series. Indeed, a win Sunday night would knot the series at two-all, with a chance to give Cliff Lee another chance to be, well, Cliff Lee in Game 5.
So what were the 10 biggest reasons that the Rangers came away with the huge Game 3 victory? Please read on and examine the factors—some obvious and some more subtle—that enabled the Rangers to make this an interesting series again.
The Rangers were trounced in their two games in San Francisco, losing by a combined score of 20 (yes, 20!) to 9.
Was that a Texas-sized or California-sized beating they endured?
While they had not played great at home in their previous 2010 postseason appearances (compiling just a 2-3 record), they had to be happy to get out of San Francisco.
Not only did they have their rabid hometown fans—including George W. and Laura Bush—but they got to play by American League rules and return Vladimir Guerrero to his regular role as their DH and frankly keep him the heck out of the outfield.
Not to mention that Kelly Clarkson did a pretty good national anthem, while San Francisco trots out people from groups like Death Cab For Cutie.
Giants left fielder Pat Burrell was a key midseason acquisition for the Giants and has delivered lots of big hits for them. Not many have come in the postseason, but his is still a dangerous bat.
Well, it was. After an 0-for-4 game with four strikeouts, Burrell is now 0 for 9 with 8 Ks in the 2010 World Series. That's hard to do.
Colby Lewis struck him out—of course—in a big spot with two runners on in the top of the first inning and got him again after a one-out Buster Posey single in the fourth.
Burrell added to his great day by fanning to lead off the seventh and doing the honors again to start the ninth.
I sense a pattern here.
Jonathan Sanchez is a very talented pitcher who is somewhat overshadowed by his better-known colleagues, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Sanchez is one of the hardest pitchers to hit, but he also doled out Major League Baseball-leading 96 free passes in the regular season.
The book on Sanchez is to be patient, and wait for him to make a mistake or implode. While he was not as implosive Saturday night as he was in Game 6 of the NLCS vs. the Phillies, the Rangers got the key hit off the talented lefty in the bottom of the sixth.
After yielding a walk to Bengie Molina with two outs and a man on third, Sanchez threw a pitch to Mitch Moreland that the rookie rather liked. After the Moreland home run—set up by that Molina walk—the game was effectively over.
Sanchez' line: 6 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 3 Ks and 3 BBs in just 4.2 innings.
Baseball is loaded with cliches, many of which hold true.
Here's one for you: Two-out runs kill!
The Giants had 30 of those two-out runs out of their previous 50 postseason tallies. They killed the Braves and the Phillies in the NL playoffs and also served them well in the first two games of the Fall Classic.
And yes, Cody "Babe" Ross went deep but nobody was on base. That was of the one-out variety, as was Andres Torres' dinger in the eighth.
By the way, all four of the Rangers' runs came with two outs!
Okay, just one more baseball truism for you.
As a pitcher, you always want to pitch ahead in the count and you want to keep the leadoff man off base. The Giants only got their leadoff man on once in nine innings: a walk to Ross in the second.
The Rangers were successful offensively in three of eight innings: a Nelson Cruz double in the third during which Moreland hit his three-run homer, a Michael Young single in the fourth and an Elvis Andrus single in the fifth during which Josh Hamilton homered.
Andrus, the Rangers' own leadoff man, looked more like himself tonight, going 2-for-4.
On a team of talented players, the Rangers' marquee player is center fielder Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton is a leading candidate to win the AL MVP and he bagged the ALCS MVP vs. the Yankees. Yes, the Rangers got by Tampa Bay without him, but does that series even go five games if Hamilton were not so cold?
Hamilton is only 2-for-12 in the World Series, but he made his one hit stand up Saturday night. His one hit, of course, was a towering blast into right-center field seats to extend the Texas lead to 4-0. It turned out to be an important insurance run after the never-say-die Giants cut the lead to 4-2 and threatened to tie the game in the eighth.
The Rangers committed four errors in the two games in San Francisco, and they simply did not make a lot of other makeable plays.
Having Vladimir Guerrero back at DH, with Jeff (I'm not a Gold Glover, but Vlad is getting old) Francoeur in right field was a help, but Guerrero was not the only culprit in the first two games.
Texas had to tighten it up with the leather, and they did exactly that tonight. The Rangers committed zero errors and made some very nice plays.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler started a nifty 4-6-3 double play in the second off a tricky short-hopper from Pablo Sandoval.
Left fielder Nelson Cruz made a terrific over-the-shoulder grab of a Freddie Sanchez rocket in the eighth. It came just one batter after an Andres Torres homer cut the lead to 4-2.
Never underestimate the importance of good "D."
One by-product of Colby Lewis' impressive start was that manager Ron Washington did not have to overexpose his bullpen in Game 3.
Consider these 2010 postseason stats from three of the Rangers setup men:
- Darren O'Day (who had a fine regular season): 7.36 ERA
- Mark Lowe: 67.50 ERA
- Michael Kirkman: a respectable 3.38 ERA, but Michael Kirkman does not invoke even a 2006 Mariano Rivera.
In all fairness, the setup men were asked to get one key out after Lewis exited with two outs in the eighth and clinging to a 4-2 lead with a man on first.
O'Day came in to face Buster Posey and induced him to hit a weak grouner to short off a full count. The at-bat was a fascinating duel, and O'Day survived it.
Neftali Feliz, you ask? Pure gas in the ninth to close it out!
When you hit a three-run home run in a 4-2 victory, it's a pretty big hit, and rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland sure delivered one.
Moreland came to the dish with two outs in the bottom of the second with neither team having scored. Nelson Cruz was on third base, but seemed to have lost a bid to score on a Francoeur grounder to third with one out and the infield back.
With two outs, Bengie Molina drew a walk off Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez. Still, Sanchez seemed to have the upper hand in his lefty-to-lefty battle with Moreland.
He also seemed to get the benefit of a generous strike zone to even the count to 2-2. Moreland proceeded to foul off four straight tough offerings before getting one he liked.
The rookie did not miss it, parking it deep into the right field bleachers. Just like that, the score was 3-0 in favor of the Rangers and a new World Series hero was found in Arlington.
Consider this: the Rangers have won three postseason games at home, and the winning pitcher has always been Colby Lewis.
Please excuse my National League orientation, but Lewis was hardly a household name coming into the playoffs, even for rabid baseball fans and reporters. In fact, his best years prior to 2010 were authored in Japan.
Well, Texas is pretty thrilled to have Colby now. After a good if unspectacular year as the Rangers' No. 3 starter, Lewis is now 3-0 in the postseason and has pitched well in all of his four starts.
Lewis' task in Game 3 was to keep his team in the series and shut down a team that had improbably scored 20 runs in the first two games of the Fall Classic.
Lewis was more than equal to the huge task, yielding five hits and two walks (both issued to the first six batters of the game) in 7.2 impressive innings. He struck out six and also saved his bullpen.
In a crucial Game 3 that featured at least 10 reasons for the Rangers' victory, Lewis' performance topped the list.
The beauty of Bleacher Report is that it affords you a chance to talk back and sound off.
Did I identify the top 10 reasons why the Rangers won?
Any bad omissions?
Anything you'd like to change,or...you may even agree with. That's not a bad thing.
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